Mark Nottingham, who uses a Charles Eames quote “Design depends largely on constraints” as his blog tagline, pointed to its original source (pdf). It is one of those interviews that makes you think, think hard about what you read, about what you know and about what you might not.
I liked it a lot, maybe because I like to use the concept of constraints in everything software engineering. The keywords, other than design, that were staring at my face when I was reading it were purpose, need and constraints. Some things that I took away from the interview:
- Design should have a purpose, if it is to solve a need or a problem. I believe answers to the question Why can help us in this regard.
- The constraints are what guide in making choices when you have multiple options
- The designer should be willing and enthusiastic to work within the constraints. I find this lacking a lot of times. In fact most of hiring interview questions completely miss out on this.
The constraints are important because, just like the requirements, they are real. They exist, and ignoring them can be the best way to ensure failure of any design.